By Scott Murphy, First Presidency
Did you know the human brain is wired to anticipate? Inherent in our nature is the impulse to anticipate—the act of looking forward to a desired result.
When we experience “brain freeze” from eating ice cream too quickly, we eagerly anticipate relief from the pain. Parents experience deep joy as they anticipate the birth or adoption of a child into a family of love.
Anticipation is an essential part of our physical life, but does it receive the same attention in the formation of our spiritual lives?
In many ways our need to anticipate is as essential to our spiritual lives as it is to our physical lives. Without the intentional yearning to connect with the essence of Emmanuel (God with us), we easily can get lost in the complexity and challenges of life that slowly erode our hope for what is possible. When hope is absent, we miss the empowering effect of anticipating what God’s presence with us does in our daily lives and witness.
As I ponder the approaching season of Advent, I wonder how the gift of anticipation empowered the lives of Mary and Joseph through their early struggles and the long, grueling journey filled with fear and uncertainty. The unfolding story that culminates in the birth of Jesus tells of great struggle, fear, and uncertainty that would cause many of us to lose hope. But pulsating through this story is the anticipation for something amazing—God comes to be with us!
As we prepare for Advent, which takes us to a celebration of God’s gift in Christ, I’m mindful that we enter this journey with an array of life issues that can weigh heavily on each of us. It might be concerns regarding a family member, the health of a colleague or friend, the burden those in Florida, Texas, the Caribbean, Nepal, Sierra Leon, and other places that have experienced natural disasters. It might even be the challenges we face as a church or the fears of your dwindling congregation’s uncertain future.
But as we enter Advent with our deep yearnings, we discover again and again the reminder that hope, peace, joy, and love form the gift that God makes possible for all human life. It is a sacred gift that God shares through the life of Jesus and the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit.
Advent awakens us to the essential need to live—daily—with hopeful anticipation, for God’s mission birthed in Christ is now part of us as our lives form Community of Christ.
What deep yearnings need to be released in your life that can awaken you to recognize the presence of God with you? How is God calling Community of Christ to be a vibrant message of hope for the future?
My prayer this Advent is that we who form sacred community in Community of Christ will be filled with hope, peace, joy, and love as we encounter the living presence of Christ, who came to be with us.
Live daily with anticipation for the future that God is inviting us to build together.